Plot: What’s it about?
As the world (or at least New York) wonders what became of Alex the lion and his animal friends, across the globe the group prepares to return home. Thanks to those clever penguins, a makeshift plane has been constructed and will be launched using an enormous slingshot. If the plan unfolds as the penguins expect, Alex and the others will back in Central Park in no time, with the welcome of heroes. Of course, the plan doesn’t unfold as expected and soon enough, the group winds up stranded in the remote wilds of Africa. While the penguins work to rebuild the plane, the others explore and Alex stumbles into a piece of his own past. He finds his parents, Marty finds his brethren, Gloria decides to start dating, and Melman finally becomes a doctor. But are these new lives all they’re cracked up to be?
Madagascar was by no means an animated classic, but it was a fun movie with some impressive visuals. This sequel relies a lot on the funniest parts of the original, but fails to build on those elements. So the catch phrases and such return, but no new ones emerge and the overly complicated plot doesn’t help. The writers push several plot lines here, none of which have time to develop well, so each one seems rushed. I don’t expect much depth from a children’s film, but I do think more focus could have yielded a more cohesive, enjoyable plot here. The visuals are still fun to watch and the voice performances are solid, but the lackluster story and lack of laughs drags down this follow up. But if you enjoyed the first Madagascar, by all means give this one a rental, but a blind purchase isn’t recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. As expected, the visuals look excellent and while not flawless, this comes damn close. The animation’s details come through well, with a clear and clean presentation, free from errors of any kind. The colors are vivid and bold, with hues that are a pleasure to watch. No issues with contrast either, as black levels seem stark and accurate throughout. I do think the finest of visual touches aren’t as eye popping as I had hoped, but this is still one dynamic visual effort.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is on par with the video, thanks to a great Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option. This soundtrack is active from start to finish, with few moments that don’t stand out as immersive. Now granted, not all scenes pack a lot of power, but the surrounds remain active throughout. This helps build the wild atmosphere, as well as general environment. The scenes with the endless zebras stick out as one of my favorite audio moments, but this film is packed with creative touches. No issues arise with music or dialogue whatsoever, just a terrific sounding experience. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary has both directors and two of the film’s producers, but even with four speakers, this turns out to be a rather dull affair. There is some insight provided, but also a lot of narration and silent stretches. So not the kind of fun, informative session you might expect. A picture-in-picture option lets you see video from the session also, while a trivia track offers some nice tidbits as well. This disc also includes several brief featurettes, an animated storyboard, and the film’s theatrical trailer.